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Sparks fly after boozy bonspiel

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 04/10/2017 10:30 AM

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A man who drank excessively at a curling bonspiel before attempting to drive home in a car with only three wheels was sentenced in a Steinbach courtroom on Thursday.

Gordon Henry Benson, 54, pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.

At 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 5, a Selkirk RCMP traffic patrol officer pulled over a car, driven by Benson, on the Trans-Canada Highway two miles east of Provincial Road 206, after witnessing sparks emanating from the back end of the weaving Pontiac. After the car ground to a halt, officers discovered it was missing its right rear tire and rim.

The lost wheel was later found on the overpass from the northbound Perimeter Highway to the eastbound Trans-Canada Highway. A police report stated the accused had missed the exit ramp and attempted to make a sharp turn, colliding with a concrete barricade and sustaining what Crown attorney Amy Wood called "significant damage along the entire right side" of the vehicle. Benson went on to drive 11 kilometres on his disc brake rotor, she said.

Wood noted that Benson, a Winnipeg autobody shop manager who lives in Dufresne, was confused after being pulled over, reportedly telling officers, "I know I have a flat tire." Officers found his blood alcohol level to be nearly twice the legal limit.

On top of the mandatory one-year driving prohibition, Wood requested a "significant fine," observing Benson’s only prior conviction—a refusal to prove a breath sample in May 1998—was of the same nature as the February incident.

Judge Ken Champagne credited Benson for pleading guilty at the first opportunity but also observed that onlookers in the courtroom were visibly flabbergasted upon hearing the details of the case.

"It was total stupidity on my part," Benson admitted.

"This was a curling night, was it?" asked Champagne. "It sounds like a lot more bonspieling than curling going on."

"Yeah, since then I’ve quit curling because it’s just not good for me," Benson replied.

Champagne issued Benson $2,600 in fines and surcharges, along with a one-year driving prohibition.

"You’re a body shop guy—can you fix that vehicle you were driving?" wondered Champagne.

"I can fix anything," sighed Benson.

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